KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Three of Malaysia’s most prominent dance companies, Sutra Foundation, Dua Space Dance Theatre and DiDance are coming together for Rentak Bumi 2.0.

To be staged from December 16 to 18, Rentak Bumi 2.0 is set to explore Malaysia’s rich cultural diversity and dance heritage, performed by some of the best dancers in the country.

From online to stage

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Sutra Foundation together with Dua Space Dance Theatre and DiDance, featured six virtual dance presentations under the title Rentak Bumi.

These online presentations were created by artistic directors Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Zaridah Abdul Mallik, Anthony Meh and Aman Yap, as part of ArtsFAS, an initiative of Yayasan Hasanah.

Rentak Bumi, the online effort of these three dance companies, succeeded in bringing awareness to the rich diversity of Malaysian dance during the challenging pandemic period.

For ‘Rentak Bumi 2.0’, Dua Space Dance Theatre was able to secure the main funding from ArtFAS. — Picture courtesy of Dua Space

This year, under the continual support of ArtsFAS 2022, the dance companies will once again synergise their efforts in transforming these dance videos into a live performance.

Award-winning lighting designer Tan Eng Heng will lend his creative expertise to light the works featured in the production.

Rentak Bumi 2.0 will also hold a special lecture-demonstration titled Behind the Making of Rentak Bumi in its effort to connect with performing arts students and those interested.

This special lecture-demonstration conducted by the artistic directors offers insight into the collaborative efforts behind the online staging that led to Rentak Bumi 2.0.

The session is scheduled at 6pm just prior to the last performance on December 18.

Challenges and triumphs

Asked what were the challenges involved in mounting this production, Ramli is frank.

“The most challenging part of any production would be the uncertainty related to the funding. We are fortunate that this time, Dua Space was able to secure the main funding from ArtFAS,” said Ramli, the founder and artistic director of Sutra Foundation.

“Another challenge would be to publicise Rentak Bumi 2.0 across various communities – mainly the English, Chinese and Malay speaking communities. They don’t have a homogeneous taste where theatre is concerned.

“Fortunately, dance does not have a language barrier. Still, in terms of promotional materials, we had to make sure Rentak Bumi is well publicised in all multi-racial media of our communities,” Ramli told Malay Mail.

Calling Rentak Bumi 2.0 an ‘easy birth’, Ramli added: “The creative challenges, as far as choreography or working together for our shared goals, have always been a joy.

DiDance is one of the three prominent dance companies featured in the year-end production. — Picture courtesy of DiDance

“Working with Dua Space and DiDance has been a very pleasant experience. We have worked together well over the years and there is an underlying understanding and trust.”

In regard to ticket sales, Ramli does not envision problems. “This is mainly because the Panggung Bandaraya is a rather small theatre with just over 300 seating capacity, and we only have three performances.

“We chose Panggung Bandaraya because it is one of the most charming theatres in KL with a wonderful atmosphere and history. Sutra’s recent performance at the Panggung had been well received so we unanimously decided to stage Rentak Bumi there,” Ramli explained.

“I think between the three companies and the excellent run of publicity strategy we have, we will not have much problem in filling this small-ish but elegant theatre.”

According to Ramli, people are fatigued by the overflooding of online and virtual performances during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“Nothing beats the magic of live theatre and people are realising this. They are once again going out in droves to enjoy live dance-theatre experiences.”

On what he hopes for audiences to derive from the show, Ramli answered: “A sense of pride in our rich and diverse culture, both in contemporary traditional and contemporary modern dance. You will experience the dynamic and living dance culture which we possess literally in our backyard!”

He added: “You will see that each company defines its own creativity and is inspired by their own heritage which is transmogrified into their expressions.

“Audiences will sense the thread of ‘modernity’ that runs through all the pieces, even in the traditional works. Rentak Bumi defines ‘modernity’ from our indigenous culture, whether it be Malay, Chinese or Indian.

“The other takeaway is that the creative impulse of this nation’s theatre is alive and well in independent companies,” concluded Ramli.

Rentak Bumi 2.0 will be staged from December 16 to 18 at 8.30pm at Panggung Bandaraya DBKL, Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur.

Tickets are priced at RM30, RM 50 and RM 100. For tickets, visit www.cloudjoi.com.